It may be hard to believe, but it's been two years - almost to the day - since Mozilla announced its plans to launch a version of its Firefox browser designed for Windows 8. Development of the touch-friendly browser has evidently been somewhat slower than many had expected, with numerous delays plaguing the project.
Today, though, Mozilla announced the launch of a full public beta of its new browser, along with a new name. Developed under the 'Firefox Metro' moniker, the browser is now known as Firefox for Windows 8 Touch, and Mozilla says that it has been "optimized for Microsoft's Windows 8 Modern UI".
A key feature of the browser is the 'Firefox start screen' - the first screen you seen when launching the app - which the company first showed off back in December, and which provides an overview of 'top sites', along with bookmarks and browsing history.
As you'd expect of a browser designed for the Modern UI, touch gestures are fully supported, including pinch-to-zoom, and "one-touch swipe transitions", similar to Internet Explorer 11 in Windows 8.1. The app also supports the operating system's Snap feature, to ensure that it can comfortably sit side-by-side with other apps on screen.
Further welcome support for Windows 8 comes in the form of integration with the Windows 'Share' Charm, which can be accessed by swiping in from the right edge of the display. Mozilla says that this will allow users to easily share web pages or extracts to social networks.
Firefox for Windows 8 Touch Beta is available to download now directly from Mozilla. Don't forget - and we can't stress this enough - that this is a beta release, so approach it with the understanding that not everything will be perfect yet. Further release notes are available from Mozilla here.
The full, final version of the app is still scheduled for release on March 18 - but, after so many delays, don't be too surprised if that date gets pushed back.
Images via Mozilla
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